Trouble with TOMAR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again!

Trouble with TOMAR? Learn it with CHUNKS, never forget it again!

(Take this.)

Gracias. ¿Tomamos un taxi o qué?
(Thank you. Shall we take a taxi or what?)

Eso toma menos tiempo, pero está bonito como para caminar.
(That takes less time, but it’s nice out to walk.)

¡Holis! I’m Maura, from Spring Spanish y en este video hablaremos del súper común verbo “tomar” (and in this video we will talk about the super common verb “to take”). We use this as much as English does but, since it’s irregular and it can be reflexive, like “tomarse”, it can be a little annoying to learn.

¡Que no cunda el pánico! (No to panic!) Chunks to the rescue. ¡Empecemos!

1. Conjugating “tomar” in the present tense

Tómame una foto, porfa.
(Take a picture of me, please.)


Pero así súper tonta, como que no me tomo en serio.
(But like super silly, like I don’t take myself seriously.)

Es que tú no te tomas nada en serio.
(You don’t take anything seriously.)

Algunas cosas sí. Pero en general sí pienso que hay que tomarse la vida a la ligera.
(Some things I do. But in general I do think one has to take life lightly.)

Before we jump into it, I just have to make sure you’ve downloaded our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit through that link in the description. You’ll find chunks natives use every single day!

Ahora (now), let’s figure out that dialogue, shall we?

  • Tómame una foto. (Take a picture of me.): tómame is reflexive. Victoria used the root toma because she was talking to a (you). The, she added me : tómame, because she wanted me to take a picture of her. Así funcionan los verbos reflexivos. (That’s how reflexive verbs work.) Their conjugation includes the person who you’re taking to and the person who’s affected by the verb. She could have also said: toma una foto. (take a picture.) The only problem is that toma, by itself, doesn’t specify what or who should be in the picture.
  • No me tomo en serio. (I don’t take myself seriously.): if you want to say this about him or her, for example, you would change the reflexive pronoun me to se: Ella no se toma en serio, él no se toma en serio. (She does not take herself seriously, he does not take himself seriously.)
  • No te tomas nada en serio. (You don’t take anything seriously.): this is the same but talking about (you), that’s why we use te tomas.
  • Hay que tomarse la vida a la ligera. (One has to take life lightly.): do you want to know something funny? En Venezuela, decimos: Hay que tomarse la vida con soda. (In Venezuela, we say: You have to take life with soda.) Or, simply: Tómatelo con soda. (Take it with soda.) And it means the same thing.

Now, let’s look at a general table of conjugation for this quirky verb in the present tense. ¡Apréndete los chunks y úsalos con confianza! (Learn the chunks and use them with confidence!)

Yo (I)Tomo (I take)Solo tomo taxis cuando estoy apurada. (I only take cabs when I’m in a hurry.)
(You)Tomas (You take)Siempre tomas fotos bellas. (You always take beautiful pictures.)
Él, Ella, Usted, Ello (He, She, Formal You, It)Toma (He takes)Él se toma las cosas muy en serio. (He takes things very seriously.)
Nosotros/Nosotras (We)Tomamos (We take)Tomamos riesgos cuando es necesario. (We take risks when it is necessary.)
Ustedes, Ellos/Ellas (Plural You, They)Toman (They take)Es mejor si toman clases en la noche. (It is better if you take classes in the evening.)

2. Very common chunks with “tomar”

One of the good things about “tomar” is that you can use it almost exactly as you use “to take” in English. There is one big difference, though, which we’ll cover at the end.

¡Maura, apúrate que se nos hace trade!
(Maura, hurry up, we’re running late!)

Nos va tomar diez minutos llegar. Y si salimos mas tarde, yo pago el taxi, no te preocupes.
(It will take us 10 minutes to get there. And if we leave later, I’ll pay for the cab, don’t worry.)

¿Segura? Mira que te tomo la palabra.
(Are you sure? I’ll take your word for it.)

Que sí. Anda, tómate un break mientras yo termino.
(Yes. Go, take a break while I finish.)

In the previous examples we’ve already seen chunks like:

  • Tomar taxis (taking cabs)
  • Tomar riesgos (taking risks)
  • Tomarse las cosas en serio (taking things seriously)
  • Tomar fotos (taking pictures)

But, there’s many others.

Here are the chunks with “tomar” which we use the most:

  • Nos va tomar diez minutos llegar. (It will take us 10 minutes to arrive.): Notice the reflexive pronoun nos which means I’m referring to “us”.
  • Te tomo la palabra. (I’ll take your word for it.): almost exact same idiom, right? ¿No les encanta cuando esto pasa? (Don’t you love it when this happens?). Again we’re using te before tomo because I’m talking about (you).
  • Tómate un break. (Take a break.): we could switch break for un descanso: tómate un descanso, but I wanted to use break so you’ll know this is one of those words many Latin Americans would borrow from English. La mayoría de la gente citadina lo entiende. (Most city people understand this.)

Outside the dialogue, we could also find:

  • La tercera toma es la mejor. (The third take is the best.): Esto pasa en mi vida todo el tiempo. (This happens in my life all the time.) We also use this verb to talk about shots, or takes you make while shooting something.
  • Quiero tomar clases de boxeo. (I want to take boxing classes.): with classes we do the same as English, we take them.
  • Este fin de semana voy a tomar un baño largo y tendido. (This weekend I’m going to take a long, extended bath.)

Chunk Alert!

¿Pensaste que no íbamos a tener Chunk Alert? (Did you think we weren’t going to get a Chunk Alert?) Well, we do! Largo y tendido (Long and extended) can be used to talk about anything you want to do for a long, extended period of time. Usually we use this when it comes to talking, like:

  • Vamos a tomarnos un café y así podemos hablar largo y tendido. (Let’s have a cup of coffee so we can talk long and extended.)

3. When “tomar” is not “to take” in English


Gracias, pero acuérdate que yo no tomo café.
(Thank you, but remember that I don’t drink coffee.)

Ay, verdad. Pero si tomas té, ¿no?
(Oh, right. But you do drink tea, don’t you?)

Sí, tomo té de cualquier tipo de hecho. Así que el que tengas está bien.
(Yes, I drink tea of any kind in fact. So whatever you have is fine.)

Here’s what’s up:

  • Toma (Here (lit.: take this)): we used this in the first dialogue and we used it again here. You could certainly say “take this” to translate but, “here” might be a better fit. Nonetheless, every time you hand something to someone you can simply say: toma. Or, even: ten.

Now, let’s talk about the the big difference between both languages:

  • Yo no tomo café. (I don’t drink coffee.)
  • Pero si tomas té, ¿no? (But you do drink tea, don’t you?)
  • Si, tomo té de cualquier tipo. (Yes, I drink tea of any kind.)

All of these examples represent the same use of tomar that does not translate as “to take” in English. Basically, we use tomar in Latin America to mean “to drink”. Spain does use this for everything you could have, whether food or drinks. Para mi, esto solo significa “beber”. (To me, this just means “drink”.)

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